A young child asks, “Mommy, what age was I cutest of all? / Now that I’m bigger or when I was small?” The pages that follow are her reply.
Bridges chooses an often syrupy singsong rhyme for the mother to convey her memories of how much she adored her child at various times in his young life: “When you were born, you were cuter than cute, / Tiny and sweet in your new birthday suit.” McNicholas illustrates these moments in softened hues that add a cozy touch to the title. Learning to walk, refusing to eat, playing at the park, dressing up, and attending school are all recounted. In the end, the child’s concerns that as time goes by Mommy’s love may change are put to rest, “You’re my darling, no matter what stage. / I’ll love you forever, whatever your age!” In each scenario and image the child and mother are together, and no other family members appear. The child is depicted with shaggy, blond hair but is dressed androgynously; readers may gender the child as they choose. Both child and mother are Caucasian, but playground and preschool scenes include children of color.
Although the message of a parent’s endearing and constant love is always welcome, the bland treatment here will leave young readers wanting. (Picture book. 3-5)